Occupy PLux : Interns on strike in Brussels

Article published on April 1, 2014
Article published on April 1, 2014

To­mor­row, Wednes­day 2nd of April 2014, the very first in­tern strike will take place in Brus­sels. It's an un­prece­dented event de­spite the pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion of most of the young stu­dents set­tled in the Eu­ro­pean cap­i­tal in search of a ca­reer.

The prepa­ra­tion of the strike has been kept se­cret so far, al­though Brus­sels based in­terns and trainee or­gan­i­sa­tions have been work­ing on the ac­tion for months. Many reg­u­lar, though con­fi­den­tial, meet­ings have taken place to pre­pare this vast op­er­a­tion. The move­ment even has a name : ‘Oc­cupy PLux’.

In­terns share their ex­pe­ri­ences

Julia, 26 : “Every day I have to do the same pho­to­copies again and again, just be­cause the lay­out is not ‘per­fect’. I some­times spend over 4 hours of my day on it, it’s in­sane!”. Denis, 22: “Cof­fee is al­ways an issue: ei­ther it’s too hot or too cold. I have to pre­pare it 3 times to get it right”. Syl­vain, 29: “I have been an in­tern in the same com­pany for the last 4 years. They promised me a per­ma­nent con­tract after 6 months, but it is since post­poned at every re­view, sup­pos­edly be­cause my tie is badly done”.

These poignant tes­ti­monies are only the tip of the ice­berg : many hopes are in­vested in to­mor­row’s protest and some in­terns event admit that “more rad­i­cal mea­sures will be taken” if noth­ing changes.

Bel­gian po­lice on the look-out

Al­though protests and demon­stra­tions are the daily rou­tine of the Eu­ro­pean Quar­ter, the Brus­sels po­lice force is concerned about po­ten­tial ex­cesses. “Ac­cord­ing to our es­ti­mates, if only half of Brus­sels’ in­terns par­tic­i­pate in the protest, there would be over 7.500 young peo­ple around Place du Lux­em­bourg,” says a source close to the se­cu­rity forces. “Be­tween our­selves, many of those young­sters have noth­ing to lose: famers’ protests are peanuts com­pared to what they could do,” confides a Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion civil ser­vant.